Frequently Asked Questions

How Large is the Natural Gas Pipeline Network?

98 percent of the natural gas used in the U.S. comes from North America. INGAA members operate over 202,000 miles of natural gas pipelines. That’s enough to wrap around the earth more than eight times!

If all the 2.2 million miles of natural gas pipelines in the U.S. were connected to each other they would stretch to and from the moon almost nine times.

Are pipelines safe?

Yes. Pipelines are the safest, most reliable and efficient manner of transporting energy products.

The Department of Transportation, or DOT, oversees interstate natural gas pipelines, and they often note that pipelines are the safest form of energy transportation. Statistics gathered by the National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency, indicate that pipelines make up less than one one-hundredth of one percent (.01%) of all transportation accidents in the United States. There are approximately 300,000 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines throughout the United States that deliver safe, reliable natural gas to American families and businesses.

Pipelines exist almost everywhere throughout the United States -generally buried underground – transporting the energy that you depend on every day to heat your home, generate electricity, cook your food and so much more. Pipelines are a vital and efficient part of the United States’ energy infrastructure.

How deep are your pipelines buried?

The top of a natural gas transmission pipeline generally is at least 30 inches (2.5 feet) below the ground’s surface when installed, but that can vary depending on the size of the line, soil type and the terrain.

What federal, state/provincial, or local agencies regulate the pipelines?

The following are a few of the agencies that regulate natural gas pipelines:

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulates such things as natural gas transportation rates, pipeline capacity, pipeline siting and natural gas quality requirements.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and their state and local agents provide regulation for the safe transportation of natural gas through pipelines.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Fish and Wildlife Service and state environmental protection agencies provide regulations for protection of the environment and cultural resources during the construction and operation of pipeline facilities.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides regulation for the safe working place for personnel.

There is an Interstate Natural Gas project on my land? What do I need to know?

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is charged by Congress with evaluating whether interstate natural gas pipeline projects proposed by private companies should be approved. The federal government does not propose, construct, operate, or own such projects. The commission’s determination whether to approve such a project may affect you if your land is where a natural gas pipeline, other facilities, or underground storage fields might be located. FERC has issued a handy guide, An Interstate Natural Gas Facility on My Land? What Do I Need to Know?, for your information.

This guide covers:

How the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s procedures work;

What rights landowners have;

How the location of a pipeline or other facilities is decided;

What safety and environmental issues might be involved.

INGAA’s members live and work in these communities where projects are built and have committed to having a long-term relationship as your neighbor. INGAA members affirmed its commitments to landowners in a document called ‘America’s Natural Gas Transporters’ Commitment to Landowners.’

How can I learn whether a pipeline is under my property?

You can find out if there is a pipeline near you by checking the National Pipeline Mapping System Public Map Viewer at

Also, look for pipeline markers. These are signs, located at regular intervals, that include information about the product transported and the transmission pipeline operator.

If you have a pipeline on your property, you will get regular mailings from the pipeline owner. Be sure to read any mailings you receive from pipeline companies!

Can landowners still use their property after a pipeline is built?

Yes. Any land disturbance for pipeline construction is temporary. Pipeline construction crews work to restore the land to its previous state. With the exception of pipeline safety markers located at each crossing of a public road and railroad and anywhere else necessary to identify the location of a pipeline, underground gas pipelines are largely invisible as they transport energy.

After a line is built, you can carry on normal farming operations, including crop growing and grazing. And because pipelines have at least 36 inches of soil cover, there should be no obstacles to normal irrigation or cultivation. You cannot plant trees on pipeline rights-of-way, nor can you build homes or business facilities. These restrictions are in place for safety and for pipeline maintenance purposes. They also may affect the value of the land, which will be reflected in the compensation that the landowner receives from the pipeline company.

After construction of the pipeline, the company will periodically inspect the site to ensure it is being properly maintained. Inspections are done from airplanes as well as on foot. It is the responsibility of the pipeline company to maintain the site, through such activities as mowing fields and clearing trees. These maintenance activities help the company properly inspect the site.

Why do you need to build new natural gas pipelines?

As the cleanest of all fossil fuels, natural gas is quickly becoming the fuel of choice for the future. It also is safe, inexpensive and easily available in many places around the United States. These qualities are helping to boost consumer demand, which at more than 22 trillion cubic feet per year is an all-time high.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that demand for natural gas will reach 30 Tcf by 2012. This means that the natural gas pipeline industry must respond with more facilities to supply the additional demand for natural gas.

How does a natural gas pipeline operate?

Think of a natural gas pipeline as an energy highway. American pipelines transport natural gas from nearly 275,000 gas wells in various production areas of the country over hundreds or thousands of miles to customers in cities, towns and industrial facilities.

The gas is compressed when it comes out of the wells, and this compression helps it move at about 15 miles per hour through the pipes. Though the friction of the gas against the pipes slows it down at some points along the way, the pipelines operate compressor stations at points about 75 miles apart along the route to compress the natural gas and then push it along. The natural gas in a pipeline is roughly the same temperature as the earth around the pipeline, though the periodic compression can increase the temperature for a short distance.

The gas moves relatively quietly on its journey through the pipeline system. The only noise comes at the compressor stations, whose motors generate the equivalent noise of a plane engine. To minimize noise, compressor stations, which are about the size of a barn, are insulated and operate under federal regulations and specifications. Natural gas is delivered to local gas distribution companies (LDCs), which in turn distribute the gas to homes, businesses and factories. Pipelines also deliver gas to end-users, such as electric generators.

What is the INGAA Foundation?

The INGAA Foundation was established in 1990 to “facilitate the construction and operation of interstate and interprovincial natural gas pipelines so as to advance the use of natural gas for the benefit of the consuming public and the natural gas industry.” Foundation membership is made up of pipelines as well as suppliers of goods and services to the pipeline industry. The primary activity of the Foundation is the sponsorship of studies aimed at unlocking the potential of natural gas as North America’s premium domestic fuel.

What is INGAA?

The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) is a trade organization that advocates regulatory and legislative positions of importance to the natural gas pipeline industry in North America.

INGAA is comprised of 25 members, representing the vast majority of the interstate natural gas transmission pipeline companies in the U.S. and comparable companies in Canada. INGAA’s members operate approximately 200,000 miles of pipelines, and serve as an indispensable link between natural gas producers and consumers.

The interstate natural gas pipeline industry has two principal federal regulators: the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is responsible for the economic regulation of pipelines, while the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Pipeline Safety oversees the industry’s safety efforts.